SHIFTING focus from sales to service has brought Ford’s National Metro Dealer of the Year award to a WA dealer.Indeed, WA has done well in the awards, with McInerney Ford principal Denis McInerney taking the metro award and Mandurah’s Lane Ford dealer principal Colin Lane named National Rural Dealer of the Year.To win the award dealers have to meet three criteria – service, sales and corporate citizenry. The bulk of marks go towards service.Mr McInerney, a Ford dealer for nearly a quarter of a century, claimed the award despite believing the Ford motor company was doing its best to put him out of business.Ford Australia began a process of buying back dealerships from franchise holders.Ford also tried to move into the online arena, selling cars and spare parts to people via the Internet. This move threatened many dealers’ margins because they gain a large amount of revenue from the sale of parts and accessories.McInerney Ford was the only Ford dealer in WA to meet its sales targets. In fact, it has lifted its sales for this financial year by 20 per cent.Mr McInerney said he decided to stay out of the Ford dealership buy-back.“I told our people we were a small business with a conglomerate working against us,” he said.“I said the only way we could win was on service. The only way we could have done this was with the help of our people.”To lead the way Mr McInerney moved from his plush office, complete with ensuite, in the sales area to a less palatial one in the service area that boasted a view of the workshop.“I did it to show that we had gone from a sales company to a service company,” Mr McInerney said.“It was a tough ride because people get frightened by change. But the alternative of not changing was very bad.”He said the other Ford metro award winner dealers had all sold out to Ford as part of the dealership buy-back.“This is the first time a WA dealership has won the National Metro award. To think, this started off as a means of survival,” Mr McInerney said.However, he believes the dealership can do better.“I think we’ll probably peak in another couple of years if we can keep our efforts going,” Mr McInerney said.Lane Ford’s Colin Lane was unavailable for comment.
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